SAT slashes SEBI’s penalties on Prannoy Roy, his wife
Giving a big relief to Prannoy Roy, wife Radhika Roy NDTV and Mukesh Ambani linked firm Vishvaparadhan Commercial Private Limited (VCPL), the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) had reduced the SEBI imposed fine of Rs.25 crore each on Roys to Rs.5 crore each. The SAT also reduced Rs.5 crore fine on NDTV to Rs.10 lakh and even went to the extent of controversial VCPL investments in NDTV as a commercial loan agreement.
In 2009, Prannoy and Radhika Roys’ shell firm (RRPR Holding Pvt Limited – Radhika Roy Prannoy Roy Holding) accepted Rs.340 crore from Mukesh Ambani’s strategic partner Mahendra Nahata controlled firm VCPL. Through this deal, VCPL got control of RRPR which is having 26 percent shares in NDTV, which is a stock-listed company. In subsequent deals, as per SEBI, Income Tax findings, Prannoy and Radhika pledged their shares in NDTV too and in fact, VCPL got 52 percent control of NDTV. This deal was never informed to Stock Exchanges and was a complete violation.
Now curiously SAT Bench of Justice Tarun Agarwala and Technical Member Meera Swarup on July ’20s 91-page order said at many places that the financial deal between Mukesh Ambani linked frim and Prannoy Roy was just a commercial loan and not with an intention of control of the TV channel – NDTV – nor even its “editorial decisions.” Interestingly, the SAT order says that only 26 percent shares of NDTV are with VCPL and not 52 percent control as found in the SEBI and Income Tax investigation.
Interestingly, the SAT Order provides a clean chit to Mukesh Ambani-led firms’ investment in many media houses and in detail observes that Ambani’s investment in Network 18 channels through Independent Media Trust is a commercial investment or a practical business decision. The SAT Order which literally whitewashed the NDTV’s huge investment or loan by pledging the shares to VCPL is going to be a debate on surrogate controlling of listed companies by Corporates through their shell firms.
Here the question is whether the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) which found the gross violation and manipulation by Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, and VCPL will challenge the SAT Order, which is treated widely as bad in law?
PGurus’ Managing Editor Sree Iyer has published a detailed fraud committed by the TV Channel NDTV. The book is available here on Amazon.
 NDTV case: SEBI likely to challenge SAT order in SC – Jul 25, 2022, Hindu Businessline
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